Known in India as atibala,  this tender perennial shrub is  native to tropical and subtropical areas where it grows in disturbed sites.  It is a member of the mallow family, Malvaceaea, that also includes hibiscus, okra, and cotton.  Plants grow 4-8′ tall from a long tap root and have leaves up to 4″ long that are usually shallowly 3-lobed and hairy.  They are broadly ovate to heart-shaped, have coarsely toothed margins, and are carried on long petioles. The yellow chalice-like flowers are  about 1″ wide and are carried singly in the leaf axils over a long bloom time in summer.  Although attractive in a tropical or subtropical garden, the plants can become weedy if conditions are optimal. Various parts of the  plants are valued for their medicinal properties and used for such purposes as a laxative, sedative, and anti-inflammatory. The genus name, Abutilon, is the Arabic word for a mallow-like plant. The specific epithet, indicum, refers to India, a geographic site of the plant.  

Type: Tender shrub

Outstanding Feature:Medicinal properties

Form: Irregular vase-shaped

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Chalice-shaped yellow flowers in leaf axils over a long bloom season

Size: 4-8′ H

Light:Full sun to part shade

Soil: Fertile, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 9-10

Care: Control spread if necessary

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, stem cuttings



Abutilon Indicum or Indian mallow is a perennial plant which has downy branches and hair on them. This under-shrub reaches a height of 1-1.5 meters. The leaves are simple, alternate, stipulate, broadly ovate, cordate at base, and 1.9 -5 cm long. They are also acute, irregularly and coarsely dentate. They have long petioles of 2.5-7.5 cm length.

Flowers are regular, orange-yellow, and bisexual, solitary and axillary with 2.5 cm diameter. The sepals are five in number with 5 fused lobes, and cup-shaped calyx. Lobes are shallow and apiculate. The ovary is superior and 10-capillary style. It has long tap roots.

Abutilon indicum (Indian abutilonIndian mallow) is a small shrub in the family Malvaceae, native to tropic and subtropical regions and sometimes cultivated as an ornamental. It is found in Tamil Nadu.[2] This plant is often used as a medicinal plant and is considered invasive on certain tropical islands. Its roots and leaves are used for curing fever.[1]

Common name: Indian Mallow, Country Mallow, Abutilon, Indian abutilon • Hindi: कंघी Kanghi • Marathi: पेटारी Petari • Tamil: Paniyaratutti • Malayalam: വെല്ലുരമ് Velluram • Telugu: Tuturabenda • Kannada: Tutti • Bengali: পোটারী Potari

Botanical name:  Abutilon indicum    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Sida indica, Abutilon asiaticum, Abutilon arborescens

Indian Mallow is an erect velvety-pubescent shrub with circular-ovate or heart-shaped leaves with coarsely crenate-serrate margins. The plant can reach up to 1-2 m. The leaves are alternately arranged, and have long stalks and have velvety, soft, pale hairs on them. Orange-yellow flowers, 2-3 cm across, occur solitary in axils, on long stalks, 4-7 cm. Orange-yellow petals are triangular-obovate, 1 cm long or slightly more, staminal-tube hairy with stellate hairs. Fruit is quite interesting – it is circular in shape, consisting of 11-20 radiating hairy carpels, brown when dry; each carpel flattened, somewhat boatshaped. Seeds are kidney-shaped. The plant is a weed commonly found on disturbed land. Flowering: September-April.
Medicinal uses:  Extract of water-soaked dried seeds is used as purgative. Leaves are used as tonic. Roots are taken as infusion in fever.

By Karen